New York Times: Russia said on Tuesday that it would not participate in a meeting with the United States this week to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the most significant indication yet of how Russia’s war with Georgia has spoiled relations regarding other security issues.
The New York Times
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: September 23, 2008
Russia said on Tuesday that it would not participate in a meeting with the United States this week to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the most significant indication yet of how Russia’s war with Georgia has spoiled relations regarding other security issues.
Russia’s move apparently effectively scuttled the meeting.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a biting statement that criticized remarks last week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who declared that Russia had taken “a dark turn” away from democracy and respect for international norms.
“We would very much like Washington, in the end, to make up its mind what kind of relations they want with Moscow,” a ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko, said in the statement. “If they want to punish Russia, that is one thing,” he said. “If they agree that we have common interests that need to be jointly advanced, then that’s another.”
Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said in a press briefing on Tuesday that the decision to cancel the meeting was mutual and not a game of tit for tat with the Russians. “We agree with them the time is not right to have a meeting at the ministerial level,” he said.
Russia and the United States, with China, Britain, France and Germany, had been scheduled to meet Thursday in New York to discuss additional punitive actions against Iran in the wake of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency criticizing Iran’s failure to fully answer questions about its nuclear activities.
Russian officials had already made clear that they did not support new sanctions beyond three rounds already approved by the United Nations Security Council.
Ms. Rice is scheduled to meet her Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A senior administration official, attending the meetings, acknowledged relations with Russia were in “a very rocky period” that tested the administration’s efforts to continue to cooperate on security issues even as President Bush and his aides strongly criticized Russian actions after the brief war with Georgia.
“They definitely don’t share the same sense of urgency that we and some of our European partners have,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter.